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Boom Town Museum

    Oil is synonymous with the name Bothwell in its earlier years.  The Delware Native Christians and the Brethren, who arrived in the area in 1792, to settle Moravian Missionary at Fairfield used oil mainly as a liniment or as medicines. On February 15, 1793, Governor John Grave Simcoe accompanied by Natives, found a spring of petroleum along the Banks of the Thames River so started the Bothwell Oil Fields.  In the 1860’s, Bothwell had the allure, chaos and mayhem equal to any gold rush town.  The Oil Boom brought many new faces to the now growing town of Bothwell. Prior to the Civil War, American army officers and many other prospectors were very interested in Bothwell oil deposits. Oil Kings arose – John Lick, B.T. Wells and Reid in the forefront.


    The Bothwell oilmen felt a severe stain with the ending of the American Civil War in 1865, the Fenian Raids and the threat of a possible war between Canada and the United States. The prolific Kings Well in the Petrolia field flooded the market with low priced oil in 1866.  The drop in crude oil from $12.00 to $2.00 and as low as 50 cents a barrel was also an increasing threat to Bothwell’s economy with the end result of 172 of the 203 wells shutting down in 1866.  Oil continued to flow but the big boom had passed until the second phase of oil production in the 1890’s.


    In the beginning of oil production, horse drawn wooden tankers were used to transport the oil from the holding tank to another storage tank and the receiving station by the railway.  The driver’s responsibility was to hand pump the oil from the holding tank into the horse drawn tanker that held 10 barrels of oil and deliver it to the receiving station. When the load arrived at the receiving station, gravity was used for unloading.  Rail travel made moving the oil to the refineries an easier and faster method. This oil field has an advantage with its close proximity to the railway.  In the 1950, oil truck tankers was considered a faster method and a new industry emerged.     

   The five wells today produce an average of 7 barrels a day.  The wells are 380 feet deep and draw oil from the porous formation, which allows the oil to form pools. 


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